Ruzi Thai

Urochloa ruziziensis
cv. Ruzi Thai

formerly Brachiaria ruziziensis

Ruzi Thai grass is a medium height, stoloniferous spreading perennial grass, which is used as a grazed pasture forage or cut and fed to tethered or stalled animals. Ruzi grass is very closely related to signal grass. It has short soft hairy leaves whereas signal grass is not so hairy.

Ruzi grass is one of the most widely grown forage grass in Thailand due to its excellent seed production and ease of establishment. Ruzi grass is very palatable and of excellent quality, with crude protein concentrations ranging from 9-15%.

Ruzi grass tolerates a range of soils, but they must be fertile. It does not persist on infertile soils. It grows best on well drained sites and does not like waterlogged, damp, low lying sites. Ruzi grass does not grow well in the dry season whereas Mulato II does.

Because of its high soil-fertility requirements, adequate N must be supplied by either a legume or fertilizer and P and K must also be supplied. It combines very well with Ubon stylo and hamata stylo.

The main attributes of ruzi grass are its good nutritive value, its fast growth early in the wet season, its compatibility with stylo species, its good seed production, tolerance of grazing and ease of establishment. Its main deficiencies are that it must have well-drained fertile soils (does not like damp soils), that it grows slowly in the cool season and that it does not grow very well in the dry season. It is mainly a wet season grass.

Storing the seeds

Ruzi Thai seeds must be stored in a cool and dry room to preserve seed germination. A room temperature of 20-22°C and a room humidity of 40-50% RH will maintain good seed germination for about one year. If storage is only for about one month, then an ordinary air-conditioned room is okay but it must be dry.

Do not store the seed bags on a concrete floor. Always store the seed bags on a raised pallet off the floor. Never place the seed bags against a wall. Maintain a space of 30-40 cm out from the walls of the storage room.

Soil preparation

The fields must be thoroughly cultivated to kill the weeds and produce a fine and even seed bed for good establishment. Firstly, there must be a good ploughing to turn over the soil and bury the weeds. Wait for two to three weeks for the weeds to die. Secondly, disc or rotary hoe the soil to break down the large soil lumps to produce a fine seed bed. Thirdly, harrow the soil to make it even.

Seed sowing

Ruzi Thai seeds can be either planted in rows, 40-50 cm apart, or broadcast sown at 10-12 kg/ha. For drilling the seed through seed drills, be very careful to not bury the seed more than 2 cm depth. Roller drills are preferred because they do not bury the seed.
For broadcast sowings, seed can be spread mechanically or hand sown. The seed must be covered after sowing by harrows or using tree branches or large brooms. Bury the seed no more than 1-2 cm under the soil. If heavy rain is forecast after sowing, the heavy rain will help to push the seeds into the soil.
Ruzi Thai seed is acid scarified by the seed producer to give seed high viability (90%+), high germination (90%+) and high purity (98-99%). This good quality ensures rapid establishment of pastures.

Fertilizer

About 4 weeks after sowing the seeds, apply about 200 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer (15:15:15). If the soils have a low pH (4-5), apply lime at about 1,000 kg/ha after the discing or rotary hoeing and before sowing the seeds.


Mun River Guinea

Megathyrus maximus
cv. Mun River

formerly Panicum maximum

It was introduced into Thailand from Costa Rica in 2015 and was evaluated in 3 years of field trials by Ubon Forage Seeds before being released in 2019.

Productivity

Mun River guinea grass is a perennial, tall, leafy grass, similar to Mombasa guinea grass but with broader and softer leaves. Mun River has a high proportion of leaves (80-85%). It is a perennial and will grow for 10 years or more under good management. It is a very productive leafy grass, producing between 15-20t/ha dry matter per year on poor soils in Thailand.

Mun River is not tolerant of waterlogging and only has moderate drought tolerance, It does not tolerate salty soils.

Establishment

Mun River can be established by sowing seed or transplanting seedlings or tillers with roots from a nursery.

  • For seed sowing, broadcast 8-10 kg/ha into a well-cultivated seed bed. Cultivate by ploughing, discing and harrowing to produce a fine seed bed.
  • Broadcast the seed over the field and then cover the seeds with 1-2 cm of soil by gently brushing or raking or harrowing. A light roller can also be used to press the seeds into the soil.
  • If planting tillers, plant the rooted tillers in rows, 50 cm apart into moist soil. Irrigate if no rain falls on the day of planting.

Management

Fertilizer

Apply 200 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer (15:15:15) at seed sowing and then after every forage cut or grazing.

Cutting

  • First cut is at 60-80 days after planting or when the plants are between knee and waist height (60-80 cm high). Cut down to about 10-15 cm or at ankle height.
  • After the first cut, cut thereafter every 40-45 days in the wet season or when the plants reach between 60-80 cm in height. If the grass is too tall (over 80 cm high) it is low in quality (low crude protein and high fibre).
  • In the dry season, cut when the plants reach between 50-70 cm in height or about every 60-70 days if there is no irrigation.

Crude Protein Levels

8-12% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-14% crude protein on better soils.

Digging out seedlings with roots for transplanting
Planting seedlings
Field of Mun River 80 days after planting
Field of Mun River for seed production

Ubon Paspalum

Paspalum atratum
cv. Ubon

Pasture atratum is a wild species native to the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias and Minas Geriais in central-western Brazil. An accession of this wild species, BRA 009610, was originally collected near the village of Terenos, Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil, by Dr. J. Valls in April 1986. Small amounts of seed were subsequently distributed to research institutions in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Florida and the Philippines.

In November 1994, Ubon Ratchathani University received 100 grams of BRA 009610 from Dr. Werner Stur of the Forages for Smallholders Project based at IRRI, Philippines [a project funded by AustAid and managed by CSIRO (Australia) and CIAT (Colombia)]. Fifty grams of this seed were used for the initial evaluation research and the other 50 grams were used for seed multiplication.

Following 3 years of evaluation work in northeast Thailand, P. atratum was consistently found to be the best grass on seasonally wet-seasonally dry soils and in 1997 it was released for forage use by Ubon Ratchathani University as cultivar Ubon.

Productivity

In Thailand on low fertility, waterlogged soils, Ubon paspalum produces between 20 and 30 t/dry matter per hectare/year. 70% is produced in the 6 month wet season and 30% in the 6 month dry season under no irrigation. Ubon paspalum is not drought tolerant but it is very tolerant of waterlogging. It will survive short periods of flooding.

Crude Protein Levels

5-8% crude protein in Thailand on poor wet soils and 8-10 % crude protein on better soils in Vietnam.

Animal Production

Data from Thailand, showed that young steers grazing Ubon paspalum had an average daily weight gain of 0.5 kg eating only grass. Despite having relatively low crude protein levels compared to other grasses, cattle gain weight because Ubon paspalum is very leafy and highly digestible.

Grazing Management

Can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. Therefore cut every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the cool season. It is important to cut Ubon paspalum frequently. If it becomes too mature and old (more than 50 days in the wet season and 70 days in the dry season), it becomes very unpalatable because of low nitrogen levels and high stem content. Cattle will refuse to eat it.

Establishment

Can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. Therefore cut every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the cool season. It is important to cut Ubon paspalum frequently. If it becomes too mature and old (more than 50 days in the wet season and 70 days in the dry season), it becomes very unpalatable because of low nitrogen levels and high stem content. Cattle will refuse to eat it.

Seed

Seed is hand harvested in Thailand and has a very high purity (99%+) and high germination (80%+).

Ubon paspalum pasture on wet soils in northeast Thailand
Ubon paspalum tolerates waterlogging
Beef cow grazing Ubon paspalum in northeast Thailand
Dairy cows grazing Ubon paspalum in northeast Thailand

Tanzania Guinea

Megathyrus maximus
cv. Tanzania (Purple guinea)

formerly Panicum maximum

Tanzania guinea grass was introduced into Thailand from the Ivory Coast in the late 1980s. It was immediately accepted by Thailand farmers, because it was far more productive than common guinea grass and it produced very high yields of good quality forage. It was also easy to produce seed and so seed was readily available.

Productivity

Tanzania Guinea is a tall grass, 1.5-2.5 m high, which is very suitable for cut-and-carry forage. In South America it is grazed, but in Thailand it is mainly used for cut-and-carry forage. It is the main grass for fresh grass sales in Thailand. It is a very productive leafy grass, producing between 12 and 20 t/ha dry matter per year. However, its dry matter yields are usually 28% or more lower than that of Mombasa guinea grass.

Crude Protein Levels

8-12% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-16% crude protein on better soils.

Animal Production

In South America, cattle liveweight gains of 720 g/hd/day during the wet season and 240 g in the dry season have been achieved from grazing Tanzania guinea grass pastures.

Grazing Management

Tanzania guinea grass can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. All farmers in Thailand prefer cut-and-carry. Therefore cut every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the cool season.

Establishment

Tanzania guinea grass can be either planted in rows, 50 cm apart, or broadcast sown at 6-8 kg/ha. Sow the seed on to the soil surface, brush the seed with soil by using tree branches or large brooms. Bury the seed no more than 1-2 cm under the soil. It is easy to plant from rooted tillers. It needs well drained, good fertility soils to grow well.

Seed

Seed produced in Thailand is harvested by hand and has a purity of over 98% and germination of 70-80%. It is pure-to type with no other guinea grass seeds in Tanzania guinea grass seed from Thailand.

Tanzania guinea pasture in Thailand
Tanzania guinea pasture planted in rows in Thailand
Tanzania pasture in northern Vietnam

Mombasa Guinea

Megathyrus maximus
cv. Mombasa

formerly Panicum maximum

It was introduced into Brazil from Tanzania in 1993, from near Korogwe, Tanzania. Large tussocks to 2 m, stems tinged with purple. Leaves are long, to 3 cm wide, with short hairs on the upper surface; leaf sheaths are glabrous. Good drought and cold tolerance. Dry matter yield 28%-40% more than that of Tanzania guinea grass.

Productivity

Mombasa guinea grass is a tall grass, similar to hybrid Napier grass in habit, but far more leafy and is very suitable for cut-and-carry. It is a very productive leafy grass, producing between 15-20 t/ha dry matter per year on poor soils in Thailand. Does not tolerate waterlogging and has average drought and cold tolerance. Dry matter yields 28%-40% more than that of Tanzania guinea grass.

Establishment

Sow the seed at the beginning of the wet season when there is good rain. If the seed is sown in the dry season, irrigation will have to be used.

  1. Cultivate the soil well. Plough, disc and harrow. Remove all weeds.
  2. Disc the soil into a fine seed bed before sowing the seed at 8-10 kg/ha.
  3. Broadcast the seed over the soil and then cover the seed with only 1-2 cm of soil. Cover by raking or brushing with large brooms or tree branches, or by gently rolling over the seeds with a light roller to press the seeds into the soil.
  4. If there is no rain, irrigate as soon as possible after sowing.

Crude Protein Levels

8-12% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-14% crude protein on better soils.

Animal Production

No data from Thailand, but in South America, live-weight gains of 770 kg/ha/yr compared with 600, and 590 kg/ha/yr from Tanzania guinea grass and Tobiata guinea grass have been reached. It is more productive than Tanzania guinea grass producing between 20-30% more dry matter in trials in Thailand.

Management

Fertilizer

Apply 200 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer (15:15:15) at seed sowing and then after every forage cut or grazing.

Cutting

  1. First cut is at 60-80 days after planting or when the plants are between knee and waist height (60-80 cm high). Cut down to about 10-15 cm or at ankle height.
  2. After the first cut, cut thereafter every 40-45 days in the wet season or when the plants reach between 60-80 cm in height. If the grass is too tall (over 80 cm high) it is low in quality (low crude protein and high fibre).
  3. In the dry season, cut when the plants reach between 50-70 cm in height or about every 60-70 days if there is no irrigation.

Seed

Seed produced in Thailand is harvested by hand and has a purity of over 99%. It is pure-to type with no other guinea grass seeds in Mombasa seed from Thailand.

Broadcast sowing seed on to a fine seed bed
Cover the seed by raking lightly
Mombasa guinea is a tall leafy grass
Mombasa pasture in Thailand